Breaking News: JK Rowling Actually a Man Named Robert Galbraith
All right, that post headling might have been a bit misleading, but I thought it was funny. JK Rowling is not actually a man. What she very well might be is a genius. And not just the sort we already knew about – the imaginative, creative writing genius who created Quidditch and butterbeer and Hogwarts – but a marketing genius, as well.
Back in April 2013, a crime novel called The Cuckoo’s Calling hit the shelves. Released as a debut from a male, first-time novelist named Robert Galbraith, the detective story is a dark one about the mystery-shrouded demise of a supermodel who plummeted to her death from a balcony.
Believing it to have been penned by previously-unknown ex-British army officer Galbraith, critics virtually unanimously praised The Cuckoo’s Calling, with some likening it to the works of Ruth Rendell and PD James (interesting that both of those writers are also women – perhaps something in the style?).
The jig began to be up when a Sunday Times of London writer read the novel, then speculated via Twitter that the book was far too good to be the work of who it claimed. Again, perhaps something in the style? Regardless, he began his own detective work, and it was soon revealed that the book’s author was indeed none other than blockbuster powerhouse Rowling, who briefly lamented:
I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.
So why do I think she’s a genius? In short, because not only does this type of fun mystery send her skyrocketing back to the top of all the news outlets, but because of the way she went about the whole thing:
1) Had she published the book under her own name, the preconceived notions that surround her fame as the Harry Potter creator would certainly have created expectations and even bias in the minds of every critic. This way, she was able to have her writing judged on its own merits, without any of the complications that come attached to being a star of Rowling’s caliber.
2) The Cuckoo’s Calling had only sold 1500 copies in the UK since its April publication, but guess what happened when the news hit yesterday? You’ve got it. It’s shot to the top of everything everywhere as Rowling fans rejoiced and scrambled to get their hands on a copy.
Clever girl, Joanne.